New Missionary Finance Tips

Discuss basic duties of stake and ward clerks, including where to begin.
nbllds-p40
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New Missionary Finance Tips

Postby nbllds-p40 » Sun May 10, 2009 9:31 pm

I'm a fairly new Financial Clerk. A young man from my ward will be leaving on a full-time mission soon. I want to get some guidelines to his family regarding payment information. The only thing that comes to mind is how much the payment is, and when it should be paid by each month. Could anyone point me to some guidelines (at least for the latter question, and maybe just others in general)?

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Mon May 11, 2009 5:37 am

nbllds wrote:I'm a fairly new Financial Clerk. A young man from my ward will be leaving on a full-time mission soon. I want to get some guidelines to his family regarding payment information. The only thing that comes to mind is how much the payment is, and when it should be paid by each month. Could anyone point me to some guidelines (at least for the latter question, and maybe just others in general)?


Some important points to remember are:

  • As with all donations to the Church, donations to the missionary fund are not refundable. This is particularly important to understand if the family decides to make a large donation in advance to cover several months or even the whole mission. Even if the missionary does not end up serving the full time for any reason, the donations cannot be refunded.
  • The missionary will be supported financially, regardless of the family's donations. If the family is unable to make the donations as they have planned, they should let the bishop know promptly so that the ward can make other arrangements to cover the payments charged to the ward.
  • On the donation slip the donors should make it clear which missionary the donation is on behalf of. That way the financial clerk can credit the donation to the proper subcategory of the Ward Missionary category so that donations and expenses can be properly tracked throughout the missionary's time of service.

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Postby russellhltn » Mon May 11, 2009 11:31 am

Alan_Brown wrote:[*]On the donation slip the donors should make it clear which missionary the donation is on behalf of. That way the financial clerk can credit the donation to the proper subcategory of the Ward Missionary category so that donations and expenses can be properly tracked throughout the missionary's time of service.


I think there's a hidden tip in that last one. And it's the biggest one of all. I don't think it's part of any training, but you can make life a lot easier on yourself if you create subcategories of the Ward Mission account for each missionary the ward sends. Otherwise it gets ugly when the account is going in the red and you have to figure out what's going wrong.

It also makes clear if you have any excess in the Ward Mission account as opposed to a "paid in advance" situation. This is because you'll find pressure to send any excess up to the stake. And if anyone has paid for the whole mission in advance, you will have an apparent overage. You'll need this information to make sure you don't hand over money you'll need later.
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Postby lajackson » Mon May 11, 2009 12:02 pm

nbllds wrote:and when it should be paid by each month.


We ask members who are intending to stay ahead of the curve to contribute to the missionary fund, if possible, by the end of the previous month.

The Church will sweep the ward missionary fund each month for 24 months (for a young man) beginning in the month he reports to the MTC. I think the transfer still takes place on the first Friday of the month.

Most of our wards keep a little extra in the fund, because many families contribute each fast Sunday, which is not always before the transfer.

The key is to stay in touch with the family, and for the family to let the bishop or clerk know if there is going to be a change in their contribution pattern. We let the family know that we appreciate their contributions, and ask them to let the bishop or clerk know if they have any temporary challenges that will cause them to change their contribution schedule or amount.

Then we track everything in subcategories so we always know what is happening, no matter who contributes what or how much.

Our family currently has a missionary serving. Last November, the bishop quietly informed me that there had been some "extra" contributions to the missionary fund representing over a month's expenses. He said he was telling me so I would be aware in case I needed to delay a contribution or would like to use the money elsewhere.

It was a great blessing for us. (And for each of the other families with missionaries serving from our ward who were told the same thing.)

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Postby russellhltn » Mon May 11, 2009 12:06 pm

One thing to watch out for - because of the timing of missionary payments and when the family pays, you could easily get one payment out of sync. Something along the lines of the missionary is home, but the family has only made 23 payments - and wondering why you're asking for one more (but he's home already!)
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Postby lajackson » Mon May 11, 2009 12:13 pm

RussellHltn wrote:One thing to watch out for - because of the timing of missionary payments and when the family pays, you could easily get one payment out of sync. Something along the lines of the missionary is home, but the family has only made 23 payments - and wondering why you're asking for one more (but he's home already!)


This happens most often when a missionary reports to the MTC late in the month and the family doesn't make the first contribution until the first part of the next month.

When we are able to help the family understand how the Church funding of missionaries really works, and they make their first payment at the beginning of the month the missionary reports (or better yet at the end of the previous month), we find that they usually have completed the 24th (for elders) payment before the missionary returns.

cdawardclerk-p40
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Missionary donations...

Postby cdawardclerk-p40 » Mon May 11, 2009 1:53 pm

Alan_Brown wrote:Some important points to remember are:

  • On the donation slip the donors should make it clear which missionary the donation is on behalf of. That way the financial clerk can credit the donation to the proper subcategory of the Ward Missionary category so that donations and expenses can be properly tracked throughout the missionary's time of service.


I don't recall seeing a specific missionary name on a donation slip while I was working as the finance clerk. I did see missionary donations from families that had a son on a mission. These donations probably went to the general Missionary account. Have I missed something here? Was I supposed to create a sub account under Ward Missionary? No family has come to me (now I'm the Ward Clerk) wanting an accounting of missionary donations for their son. Recently we had to take funds out of our Missionary account and write a check to the Stake. This amount was considered 'excess funds' in the account. We still have a positive amount in the Missionary category. I'm feeling a bit lost on this one...any help is always greatly appreciated. Thank you. :eek:

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Postby aebrown » Mon May 11, 2009 2:14 pm

cdawardclerk wrote:I don't recall seeing a specific missionary name on a donation slip while I was working as the finance clerk. I did see missionary donations from families that had a son on a mission. These donations probably went to the general Missionary account. Have I missed something here? Was I supposed to create a sub account under Ward Missionary? No family has come to me (now I'm the Ward Clerk) wanting an accounting of missionary donations for their son. Recently we had to take funds out of our Missionary account and write a check to the Stake. This amount was considered 'excess funds' in the account. We still have a positive amount in the Missionary category. I'm feeling a bit lost on this one...any help is always greatly appreciated. Thank you. :eek:


There are several good reasons to keep track of missionary donations made on behalf of a missionary:

  • The ward has to make sure that it has sufficient funds in its Ward Missionary account for each currently serving missionary on the date the missionary payments are debited each month.
  • As a missionary leaves on a mission, most bishops will ascertain how the mission will be paid for. The missionary application itself asks the candidate to specify where the funds will come from (self, family, others). It's important that those committing to funding the mission follow through so that sufficient funds are available. The bishop needs to know if these commitments are being met, and the family sometimes wants to know if they are current on their commitment.
  • Some families pre-pay the entire cost of the mission, or some significant amount of it, generally for tax reasons. When the stake or area examines the ward's missionary fund balance and compares it with the number of missionaries serving, such pre-pays may appear to be surplus funds that the ward should not be keeping in its account. The ward needs to track these pre-payments so that these funds are not erroneously sent to the stake.
  • Breaking down donations and expenses by missionary makes it possible to analyze trends and help the bishop plan for upcoming shortfalls and request additional donations from ward members to make sure that there is no deficit in the Ward Missionary account.

So to help you keep track of the Ward Missionary account properly, you should create a subcategory of the Ward Missionary account for each missionary. All donations on behalf of the missionary should be credited to that subcategory as the donation is added to the donation batch, and all expenses for the missionary should be entered each month and charged to that same subcategory. That way you can run an Income and Expense report and see the net balance for each missionary. This will help the bishop know if there are surplus funds for a missionary that should not be remitted to the stake, and also if a missionary's family is behind on its payments and may need a reminder or some assistance.

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Postby russellhltn » Mon May 11, 2009 5:14 pm

cdawardclerk wrote:I did see missionary donations from families that had a son on a mission. These donations probably went to the general Missionary account. Have I missed something here?


When you say "General Missionary" are you talking about the top-level Ward Missionary account, or that "General Missionary" account that automatically gets swept to SLC and the ward never sees again?

If it's the latter, you may want to ask the family what their intentions were.
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cdawardclerk-p40
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Missionary accounting...

Postby cdawardclerk-p40 » Mon May 11, 2009 7:25 pm

RussellHltn wrote:When you say "General Missionary" are you talking about the top-level Ward Missionary account, or that "General Missionary" account that automatically gets swept to SLC and the ward never sees again?

If it's the latter, you may want to ask the family what their intentions were.


I think the Ward Missionary account...it's been a while since I last did donations (I have an assistant Financial clerk that handles the weekly donations and any expenses). I'm not sure the families specify their missionary 'name' on the donation slip. I suppose I could view past donations from the families since we only have two ward missionaries out in the field and look at the donation slips. You make a good suggestion though...I need to do some research. Thanks.


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